Yes Sweetie Darling, the Absolutely Fabulous series has gotten the Hollywood treatment, but not a single compromise has been made in this fun British comedy.
The constantly boozed up and occasionally glamorous duo, Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), are still the party-girls they’ve always been since the 60’s, only now they’re in their 60’s. Stumbling through a fashion after-party and out of a limo the next morning, we see that age has not slowed these ladies down, as much as their bodies and family might try and tell them to.
Unfortunately Eddie realises that her bank accounts are dry once there’s no more Bollinger Champagne in the fridge and so she sets her PR sights on Kate Moss to solve all her problems. It’s no surprise that things don’t quite go according to plan, so with her best pal Patsy and the help of her granddaughter’s credit cards, the group flee to the South of France and hilarity ensues.
Fans of the show won’t be disappointed, Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Mrs M (June Whitfield) and so many other characters return, but what’s lovely about Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is that the throwbacks are matched with the story’s progression and newcomers won’t be left behind. The movie is self-contained and even entices new audience members with the sheer number of celebrity cameos which include Graham Norton, Chris Colfer, Emma Bunton, Gwendoline Christie, John Hamm, Dawn French, Rebel Wilson, Joan Collins – the list is too long to type, even Dame Edna gets her time to shine!
Some might say that the cameos are gratuitous and unnecessary but this is a film about a failing PR Agent in the spotlight, so celebrity appearances as ironic versions of themselves matches perfectly. This British female buddy comedy has a hyper-real tone similar to the old Mr Bean movies (a character that’s completely out of touch with the world and their accidental slapstick drives the plot), only if Mr Bean wore ridiculous outfits, drank all day and had a pill-popping, sexually ambiguous best friend instead of a teddy bear.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is not for everyone – if you don’t like the series you will not like the movie and it can sometimes be formulaic, but like life – it is not meant to be taken seriously. Saunders’ witty writing being led by director Mandie Fletcher (Blackadder) has modernised this series into a well-formed story that’s packed with plenty of comedy. It is one heck of a good time if you can sit back, relax and laugh at society’s worship of fame, the inevitability of ageing and Bubble’s (Jane Horrocks) latest fashion choices.
Jennifer Saunders’ good friend and comedy partner, Dawn French, made a bet with her on public radio that she would never write a film script for the series. She put 100,000 pounds on the line, but it was just the motivation Saunders needed to write a movie that fans have been craving for (but French made sure it was a one-way bet so she wouldn’t have to pay up when Saunders actually delivered).